Career-Life Balance Supplements Have Been Expanded

A career is never just about work. You must balance research, teaching, service, family, friends, maintenance of mental and physical well-being, and all the other things that make a life worth living.  The dependent care responsibilities that can be such a rich part of our lives can also cause some hardships in our careers. Career-Life Balance (CLB) supplements were created so that your NSF work may continue as smoothly as possible.

Back in November, NSF released a Dear Colleague Letter calling attention to its continued interest in receiving CLB supplement requests and announcing: 1) an increase in the amount and duration of salary support that may be requested; and 2) an extension of the opportunity to Principal Investigators (PIs) and co-PIs of all active NSF grant or cooperative agreements. We in DEB are enthusiastic about considering CLB supplemental requests on any award where researchers are confronted with a short-term increase in dependent-care responsibilities. We’ve provided guidance for such requests on our DEB supplements webpage and you can check out additional FAQs and resources here.

A few key points:

  • You should describe how a technician, research assistant, or equivalent would be used to sustain the research effort while the PI, co-PI, or other Senior Personnel is on family leave; the NSF Graduate Research Fellow is on medical deferral for a family leave situation; or the postdoctoral researcher or graduate student is on family leave.
  • Make sure you include the following statement, and if there are questions about what constitutes “family-leave” we suggest you contact your Office of Sponsored Programs.
    • “The Authorized Organizational Representative hereby certifies that the request for a technician (or equivalent) is because the (PI/co-PI/senior investigator/Fellow/postdoctoral researcher/graduate student) is, or will be, on family leave status (or equivalent) from the institution in accordance with the institution’s policies. The Authorized Organizational Representative also affirms that it is able to fill the position for which funding is being requested, in an appropriate timeframe.”
  • CLB supplements may be submitted at any time (no target date), but they are only available to PIs and Co-PIs with active awards. If you have more than one award, you may request supplements for each award.
  • Make sure you (and any associated Co-PIs or members of a collaborative) don’t have any overdue annual or final reports, or we won’t be able to process the supplement request.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is even more evident that balancing an academic career and family responsibilities is hard. We hope the CLB supplements are helpful. If you have a situation that you feel is appropriate for a supplement but is not a consequence of official “family leave,” we encourage you to talk with a Program Officer. As with all supplements, even a CLB supplement, requests are not guaranteed since they depend on the availability of funds. NSF is committed to broadening participation (see our Broadening Participation Portfolio here), and the CLB supplement mechanism is just one way in which we try to do so.